OREMUS: 29 April 2008

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Mon Apr 28 17:00:01 GMT 2008

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OREMUS for Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Rogation Tuesday
Catherine of Siena, Mystic, Teacher, 1380

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Blessed are you, strong and faithful God.
All your works, the height and the depth,
echo the silent music of your praise.
In the beginning your Word summoned light,
night withdrew, and creation dawned.
As ages passed unseen,
waters gathered on the face of the earth
and life appeared.
When the times at last had ripened
and the earth grown full in abundance,
you created in your image man and woman,
the stewards of all creation.
You gave us breath and speech,
that all the living
might find a voice to sing your praise,
and to celebrate the creation you call good.
For these and all your mercies, we praise you,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
Blessed be God for ever!

An opening canticle may be sung. 


Psalm 65

You are to be praised, O God, in Zion;*
 to you shall vows be performed in Jerusalem.
To you that hear prayer shall all flesh come,*
 because of their transgressions.
Our sins are stronger than we are,*
 but you will blot them out.
Happy are they whom you choose
   and draw to your courts to dwell there!*
 they will be satisfied by the beauty of your house,
   by the holiness of your temple.
Awesome things will you show us in your righteousness,
   O God of our salvation,*
 O Hope of all the ends of the earth
   and of the seas that are far away.
You make fast the mountains by your power;*
 they are girded about with might.
You still the roaring of the seas,*
 the roaring of their waves,
   and the clamour of the peoples.
Those who dwell at the ends of the earth
   will tremble at your marvellous signs;*
 you make the dawn and the dusk to sing for joy.
You visit the earth and water it abundantly;
   you make it very plenteous;*
 the river of God is full of water.
You prepare the grain,*
 for so you provide for the earth.
You drench the furrows and smooth out the ridges;*
 with heavy rain you soften the ground
   and bless its increase.
You crown the year with your goodness,*
 and your paths overflow with plenty.
May the fields of the wilderness be rich for grazing,*
 and the hills be clothed with joy.
May the meadows cover themselves with flocks
   and the valleys cloak themselves with grain;*
 let them shout for joy and sing.

Psalm 67

May God be merciful to us and bless us,*
 show us the light of his countenance and come to us.
Let your ways be known upon earth,*
 your saving health among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;*
 let all the peoples praise you.
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,*
 for you judge the peoples with equity
   and guide all the nations upon earth.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;*
 let all the peoples praise you.
The earth has brought forth her increase;*
 may God, our own God, give us his blessing.
May God give us his blessing,*
 and may all the ends of the earth stand in awe of him.

A Song of Creation II

Bless the Lord all you works of the Lord:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

Bless the Lord you heavens:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

O let the earth bless the Lord:
bless the Lord you mountains and hills;

bless the Lord all that grows in the ground:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

Bless the Lord you springs:
bless the Lord you seas and rivers;

bless the Lord you whales and all that swim in the waters:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

Bless the Lord all birds of the air:
bless the Lord you beasts and cattle;

bless the Lord all people on earth:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

bless the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

Psalm 147:1-12

   How good it is to sing praises to our God!*
 how pleasant it is to honour him with praise!
The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem;*
 he gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted*
 and binds up their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars*
 and calls them all by their names.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;*
 there is no limit to his wisdom.
The Lord lifts up the lowly,*
 but casts the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;*
 make music to our God upon the harp.
He covers the heavens with clouds*
 and prepares rain for the earth;
He makes grass to grow upon the mountains*
 and green plants to serve us all.
He provides food for flocks and herds*
 and for the young ravens when they cry.
He is not impressed by the might of a horse,*
 he has no pleasure in human strength;
But the Lord has pleasure in those who fear him,*
 in those who await his gracious favour.

FIRST READING [1 Kings 8:22-30]:

Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of
Israel, and spread out his hands to heaven. He said, 'O Lord, God of Israel, there is no
God like you in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and steadfast
love for your servants who walk before you with all their heart, the covenant that you
kept for your servant my father David as you declared to him; you promised with your
mouth and have this day fulfilled with your hand. Therefore, O Lord, God of Israel,
keep for your servant my father David that which you promised him, saying, "There
shall never fail you a successor before me to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your
children look to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me."
Therefore, O God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you promised to your
servant my father David.
'But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot
contain you, much less this house that I have built! Have regard to your servant's
prayer and his plea, O Lord my God, heeding the cry and the prayer that your servant
prays to you today; that your eyes may be open night and day towards this house, the
place of which you said, "My name shall be there", that you may heed the prayer that
your servant prays towards this place. Hear the plea of your servant and of your
people Israel when they pray towards this place; O hear in heaven your dwelling-place;
heed and forgive. 

Words: attributed to Ambrose of Milan, fourth century;
trans. John Ellerton and Fenton John Anthony Hort, 1870
Tune: Strength and Stay

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O Strength and Stay upholding all creation,
who ever dost thyself unmoved abide;
yet day by day the light in due gradation
from hour to hour through all its changes guide.

Grant to life's day a calm unclouded ending,
An eve untouched by shadows of decay,
the brightness of a holy deathbed blending
With dawning glories of the eternal day.

Hear us, O Father, gracious and forgiving,
through Jesus Christ thy co-eternal Word,
who, with the Holy Ghost, by all things living
Now and to endless ages art adored.

SECOND READING [James 4:8-end]:

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and
purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep. Let your
laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves
before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers and sisters. Whoever speaks evil
against another or judges another, speaks evil against the law and judges the law; but if
you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver
and judge who is able to save and to destroy. So who, then, are you to judge your
Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town
and spend a year there, doing business and making money.' Yet you do not even know
what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little
while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wishes, we will live and
do this or that.' As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Anyone,
then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin.

The Benedictus (Morning), 
the Magnificat (Evening), or 
Nunc dimittis (Night) may follow.

Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise 
for all that you have done for us. 

For the splendor of the whole creation, 
for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life,
and for the mystery of love.
We thank you, Lord.

For the blessing of family and friends, 
and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.
We thank you, Lord.

For setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, 
and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.
We thank you, Lord.

For those disappointments and failures 
that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.
We thank you, Lord.

For your Son Jesus Christ; 
for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; 
for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; 
for his dying, through which he overcame death; 
and for his rising to life again, 
in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.
We thank you, Lord.

For the gift of your Spirit, 
that we may know him and make him known; 
and through him, at all times and in all places, 
may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.

Lord God,
joy marks your presence:
beauty, abundance and peace
are the tokens of your work in all creation.
Work also in our lives,
that by these signs we may see the splendor of your love
and praise you through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Everlasting God, 
you kindled such holy love 
in the heart of your servant Catherine
that she devoted her life to the poor and the sick
and to the peace and unity of your Church.
Grant us strength to meditate
upon the passion of your Son,
that we may work in the image of his compassion
until we rejoice in the revelation of his glory; 
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen. 
Rejoicing in the God's new creation,
let us pray as our Redeemer has taught us:

- The Lord's Prayer

Come, Lord Jesus, in glory
that at last all peoples will be free,
all divisions healed,
and your whole creation will sing your praise. Amen.

The psalms and the invitation to the Lord's Prayer are from _Celebrating Common
Prayer_ (Mowbray), (c) The Society of Saint Francis 1992, which is used with

The canticle is from _Common Worship: Daily Prayer, Preliminary
Edition_, copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2002.

The biblical passage is from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized
Edition), copyright (c) 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education
of  the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by
permission. All rights reserved.

The opening prayer of thanksgiving and the closing sentence are adapted from
a Eucharistic Prayer in _Book of Common Worship_, (c) 1993
Westminster / John Knox Press. 

Catherine Benincasa, born in 1347, was the youngest (one of my sources says the 23rd) of
twenty-five hildren of a wealthy dyer of Sienna (or Siena). At the age of six, she had a
vision of Christ in glory, surrounded by His saints. From that time on, she spent most of
her time in prayer and meditation, over the opposition of her parents, who wanted her to
be more like the average girl of her social class. Eventually they gave in, and at the age of
sixteen she joined the Third Order of St. Dominic (First Order = friars, Second Order =
nuns, Third Order = laypersons), where she became a nurse, caring for patients with
leprosy and advanced cancer whom other nurses disliked to treat. She began to
acquire a reputation as a person of insight and sound judgement, and many persons from
all walks of life sought her spiritual advice, both in person and by letter. (We have a book
containing about four hundred letters from her to bishops, kings, scholars, merchants, and
obscure peasants.) She persuaded many priests who were living in luxury to give away
their goods and to live simply. In her day, the popes, officially Bishops of Rome, had
been living for about seventy years, not at Rome but at Avignon in France, where they
were under the political control of the King of France (the Avignon Papacy, sometimes
called the Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy, began when Philip the Fair, King of France,
captured Rome and the Pope in 1303). Catherine visited Avignon in 1376 and told Pope
Gregory XI that he had no business to live away from Rome. He heeded her advice, and
moved to Rome. She then acted as his ambassador to Florence, and was able to reconcile
a quarrel between the Pope and the leaders of that city. She then retired to Sienna, where
she wrote a book called the Dialog, an account of her visions and other spiritual
experiences, with advice on cultivating a life of prayer. 
After Gregory's death in 1378, the Cardinals, mostly French, elected an Italian Pope,
Urban VI, who on attaining office turned out to be arrogant and abrasive and tyrannical,
and perhaps to have other faults as well. The Cardinals met again elsewhere, declared that
the first election had been under duress from the Roman mob and therefore invalid, and
elected a new Pope, Clement VII, who established his residence at Avignon. Catherine
worked tirelessly, both to persuade Urban to mend his ways (her letters to him are
respectful but severe and uncompromising -- as one historian has said, she perfected the
art of kissing the Pope's feet while simultaneously twisting his arm), and to persuade
others that the peace and unity of the Church required the recognition of Urban as lawful
Pope. Despite her efforts, the Papal Schism continued until 1417. It greatly weakened the
prestige of the Bishops of Rome, and thus helped to pave the way for the Protestant
Reformation a century later.
Catherine is known (1) as a mystic, a contemplative who devoted herself to prayer, (2) as
a humanitarian, a nurse who undertook to alleviate the suffering of the poor and the sick;
(3) as an activist, a renewer of Church and society, who took a strong stand on the issues
affecting society in her day, and who never hesitated (in the old Quaker phrase) "to speak
truth to power"; (4) as an adviser and counselor, with a wide range of interests, who
always made time for troubled and uncertain persons who told her their problems -- large
and trivial, religious and secular.  

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